The history of the Dayton Christian Church is as old as the history of the community in which it exists.  When the earliest settlers moved into this area, they brought with them the plea for churches patterned after the New Testament example.  Before the church was built, the individual families lived it and taught it to their children.  When schools began to be erected, the churches began to crystallize and the number of disciples began to increase.  Camp meetings were enjoyed annually at Waitsburg campgrounds and hundreds availed themselves of the fellowship and scriptural preaching.

In 1881, the first actual church organization was established at Baileysburg; about two miles south of Dayton.  A building was erected under the leadership of T. M. Morgan and dedicated by G. W. Richardson.

In the fall of 1885, an organization was begun in Dayton.  For some time they met in a little dingy hall on Main Street known as Kulin's Hall.  It was an upper floor of a downtown store.  Brother S. Hamilton, of Dixie, occasionally preached for them.  Early in 1886, J. B. Daisley, an energetic little Scotsman of LeRoy, Pennsylvania, began a series of meetings which culminated in the organization of the First Christian Church of Dayton on February 7, 1886.  There were 40 charter members.

The Daisley meetings exceeded all expectations and on March 19 there were a total of 123 members in the church. At that time,the Baileysburg church merged with the Dayton congregation and swelled the membership to 185.
 
 

Preparations began immediately for the erection of a building.  The sum of $200 was raised by the soliciting committee and a lot was purchased by the church at the present location.  However, progress was very slow and so Brother T. Dittemore generously offered to pay for the lot and build the church.  He would take out a mortgage on the building until it could be paid for.  A fine building, rectangular in shape, similar to the old meeting house design of that era, was built at a cost of $1400.  It was dedicated on October 17, 1886, with the sermon being preached by Brother Holman of Waitsburg.  The sketch to the right is artist Vivian McCauley's concept of the first building.  The bell in the bell tower was made by the Buckeye Bell Foundry in Cincinnati, OH, in the 1880's.  Part of this original building was later incorporated into the present building which was completed in 1908.
Behind the early church building was a mill-race that sometimes backed up and flooded up to a foot deep under the building.  Records describe the results wryly, "The frogs would congregate under the building during the summer evenings, and it was difficult to tell which sang the louder, the people or the frogs."

Some of the early church furniture was made in Baileysburg.  The design on the three chairs on the podium match the design on the ends of the pews.  In 1967, a memorial to Thelma Rogers made it possible to have a pulpit designed to match the chairs.  The pulpit was built by Gene Turner.  In 1969, a memorial to Daphine Spalinger was responsible for the matching communion table which was built by Ed Simmerman.  The choir chairs were re-glued and re-finished in 1984.


The baptistry was painted by Ida Metcalf, wife of I.E. Metcalf who was the minister from 1923 to 1926.  The ceiling in the sanctuary was lowered and the walls paneled in the 1960's.

A new furnace was installed in 1980.  Over the years, the basement has been remodeled and changed several times.  Karl Croft remodeled the kitchen in 1984.  Major remodeling of the basement was completed in 1986 with new carpeting, arrangement of class rooms, and redecorating the fellowship room.  A handicap restroom was completed in 2004.  All restrooms were remodeled and modernized in 2009.


Upon entering the sanctuary of the church, one immediately notices the four large stained glass windows which add beauty to the worship area.  The windows were crafted near the turn of the 20th century by the Povey Brothers of Portland, Oregon.  There is no record of their original cost, but an estimate of $700 has been made.  The Congregational Church of Dayton has records of spending $300 for their stained glass windows which were also produced by the Povey Brothers in about the same time period.  The windows in the First Christian Church are larger resulting in the $700 estimate.  In 1984, they were appraised at a replacement cost of nearly $75,000.  In January of 1985, the windows were re-cemented, cleaned, repaired and protected by a special outdoor covering at a cost of $4,280.  The covering has kept the windows free from vandalism and has proven to be a good insulator to save on winter heating costs.

The following interpretations of the windows are given to help understand the "sermons in glass" that are told through the stained glass.
On the South wall of the sanctuary, is a window which was purchased by the "Y.P.S. of C.E."  This was the Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor.  The top of the window carries the phrase "The righteous shall flourish like a palm."  The picture in the window depicts the scripture.  The river represents the Jordan and symbolizes life; the palm symbolizes the righteous man. 

Notice two special things about the picture:  There is a dove in the lower right hand corner which symbolizes the Holy Spirit and there is a barrel cactus in the lower left hand corner which will not be found in a true Holy Land scene!

The window in the Northeast wall is the "Cross and Banner" window and was donated by the ladies of the church.  The bejeweled cross in the center of the window is surrounded by a banner of victory.  A crown of victory also surrounds the cross.  The banner reads "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."  The two small windows on either side represent the Greek letters "Alpha" and "Omega" which are used to represent the eternality of Christ.  The upper window is centered upon the dove which represents the Holy Spirit.  The dove is inside the star of David which represents the nations of the Jews, or the people of God.

Interestingly, the cross and banner window once was installed where the Good Shepherd window now rests.  This was before the additional space was added to the sanctuary in the early 1900's.  When the new wall was put in place, the Cross and Banner window was moved and the Good Shepherd window was put in its place.  The reason for this change is no longer known.

The fourth window is the plainest of the windows.  There is no mention of who donated the window, but if the women, the youth, and the Sunday School department donated windows, then that leaves the men's group.  The window is a simple pattern that centers around two emblems which could be depicting sheaves of grain.  That would depict the harvest theme once more.  The upper window has a lamp and a Bible which are based upon the words "A light unto my path."  It reminds us that the Word of God is the light that we need to travel the road of faith in the midst of a darkened world.

Additional restoration work is planned for the fall of 2017.  The windows will be re-cemented, cleaned, repaired and protected by a new outdoor covering at a cost of $20,000 provided by a grant from the Warren Trust.

Stained Glass Windows